by Jasmine Chan
[three_fourth]Archy Marshall renews his title as the reigning British monarch of all things cruel with his second album under the artist alias of King Krule. The OOZ is a genre bending journey, drenched with slightly out of tune guitar, rattling snare, and deep, gritty vocals in ballads that truly drag you down into his world of suffocating loneliness. Through twists of punk rock and jazz infused trip-hop, Archy immerses you 19 tracks deep into his dark blue mind.
The opening track, ‘Biscuit Town,’ is the nickname for Bermondsey, a town in London that he references later with ‘Bermondsey Bosom (Left)’ and ‘Bermondsey Bosom (Right).’ The chorus repeats “I seem to sink lower / In biscuit town, in biscuit town,” referring to losing grasp of his life and love in his UK hometown. The next track, ‘The Locomotive,’ literally describes his wait for the train, but uses this imagery to convey his internal suffering and mental isolation within one of the most active parts of the city: “This vessel was delayed / No objects in motion / A subject to smoking / The platform sighs, ‘My empty emotion’ / As trackies walk on by / I’m alone, I’m alone.” His desperation for the train to come could symbolize his desire for an end to his suffering. When it finally arrives he considers ‘stepping the gap of minds,’ which might be a reference to the ‘mind the gap when boarding’ signs, and serve as a metaphor of ending his life by jumping in front of the train. Yet he continues on with the faster paced ‘Dum Surfer,’ drowning his misery in a messy night at a bar. But not all of the tracks are riddled with imagery and metaphors to convey his darkness, Archy’s thoughts are sometimes clearly stated. For instance, in ‘Lonely Blue’ he growls and yelps with desperation over and over, “I’m so lonely”- the message is apparent here.
‘Czech One’ from The OOZ was released in August, and was his first single since 2013. The lyrics are like a free verse poem- no chorus, just a mumbling stream of consciousness recounting an interaction with a girl. It is laced with celestial imagery, while the twinkling piano and distant saxophone add a dream-like atmosphere to the track.
‘Half Man Half Shark’ sounds more like a nightmare as the chanting of “half man with the body of a shark” muddled under a chaotic mess of instruments grows louder, as if the hybrid monster is swimming towards you. His voice breaks through the water with a classic punk rock sound, heavy on the whining electric guitar and bass. Archy has said that this track is a reference to a song his father wrote called ‘Body of a Man in the Belly of a Horse,’ and his father’s voice is actually fused with his own in every repetition of the line to give the textured growl of a chanting crowd.
The title track ‘The Ooz’ embodies its name, with Archy’s questions and calls seeping through a female’s dialogue: “As oceans stand still (Hello?) / Steel structures dissolves / Of dust soft fuzz (Is anybody out there? Hello?) / She pants, she pants / All I can see is her mouth (Is anybody out there? Hello?).” Archy describes ‘The OOZ,’ the concept that inspired the entire album, as “your sweat, your nails, the sleep that comes out of your eyes, your dead skin. All of those creations that you have to refine. That’s where it comes from: It’s kind of about refining the subconscious creations that you do constantly.”
King Krule’s work can be simplified down to ‘music for sad people.’ It has a self-indulgent appeal for a ‘it’s raining out and I haven’t showered in a week please just leave me alone’ kind of day. In all the depression and suffering, he has created art that even neurotypical optimists can revel in. Although romanticizing mental illness and tragedy is nothing new, The OOZ offers unique, intriguing beauty and mesmerizing complexity that is hard to ignore.